Archive for November, 2020

Service of When Outdoors is Really Indoors: NYC Restaurants Fooling Themselves

Monday, November 30th, 2020

These bubbles, steps from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, are fully closed.

Some adults remind me of the young child who denies eating chocolate with evidence smeared all over her face and fingers. Who are they fooling?

I predict these structural interpretations by restaurant owners of the pandemic rules that permit outdoor dining in NYC will soon need to be modified either because covid-cautious customers won’t come or inspectors will shut them down.

The fourth side of this tent, which opens to the restaurant, is wide open.

There are plenty of outdoor restaurant additions closed on three sides and open on the fourth. The photo at left shows two of three closed plastic walls. The fourth side that opens to the restaurant’s front door, is wide open. However I’m not sure about the fire safety implications of plastic enclosures combined with heating elements.

I took the photos of some of the most blatant examples within walking distance of my apartment.

Would you eat at an outdoor space during the pandemic that is more closed in than not? Have you seen examples of outdoor restaurants that you’d be comfortable visiting health and heat wise this winter? Do you think restaurants will maintain their outdoor spaces long after we’ve controlled the pandemic?

 

Bryant Park Grill

Service of Making the Comfortable Decision: Thanksgiving 2020

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

 

Photo: patch.com

I like being in control. That’s one of the terrifying things about the deadly virus. At the moment, it has us all by the short hairs and will until most of us have been injected with two doses of vaccine so it can follow the demise of smallpox and all sorts of other  worldwide plagues.

There’s hardly a newscast that doesn’t warn about Thanksgiving 2020 whether it involves traveling–don’t–suggesting that college students think twice about returning home and recommending that folks celebrate exclusively with those in their households.

In accordance with my response to the 2020 census, that would be me.

Nevertheless I plan to make the usual: sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie as, until recently, I’ve done for decades. Don’t yet know about the poultry. [I hear an outcry from balanced meal enthusiasts who wonder “where is the green vegetable?” Answer: I’ll eat a ton of salad the day before.]

And as always, I will relish Friday’s leftovers.

Grow up people. Traditions are off kilter this year. Get over it.

Food lines 2020 Photo: reuters.com

I feel no sympathy for those who whine about giving up their traditions of celebrating at their Colorado condo or visiting a brother in Cincinnati. One woman wailed on Facebook that she’ll be alone with her husband, not entertaining her 10 grandchildren and their parents. She could send a check for the cost of the dinner to a food pantry while counting her blessings that she has a husband to share dinner with and a lovely family she’ll hug next summer–if we’re lucky.

Tyler Perry donated dinners to 5,000 hungry people in Atlanta over the weekend. There are countless charities desperate for help. Yesterday NPRs Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviewed Katherina Rosqueta, founder and director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, in a segment “How To Give Back During The Coronavirus Pandemic.” The focus of high impact philanthropy is to improve lives of others rather than maximize tax benefits or honor someone. The major takeaway: cash is better than goods as its more flexible under circumstances where volunteers to distribute food or other goods are hobbled due to the pandemic.

Leftover lunch on Black Friday Photo: foodandwine.com

It doesn’t soothe my Covid-19 anxiety that the president is distracted about his lost election and isn’t watching the store. The one hour he gave to join the virtual G-20 summit this weekend, with Covid-19 high on the agenda, was hardly enough. During his “attendance” he tweeted about election results in Michigan according to John Follain, Arne Delf, Ilya Arkhipov and Josh Wingrove reporting for Bloomberg.com.

In addition, the angry pandemic is raging again. It’s time to stay within our safety comfort zones and to focus on what we’re thankful for, not on what we’re giving up. My cup runneth over. Speaking of cups, I might buy a very nice wine to sip during dinner and while chatting with friends and family. I am blessed with a vivid imagination and will hug my family members and friends virtually. They don’t love me more or less because I’m not with them.

What are your plans? Do you feel pressured to give up your Covid cautious routine or do you think it’s all a lot of hooey and that people who are ducking tradition this year are pitiable?

Food Lines 2020 Photo: theguardian.com

Service of Pigeonholing: It Divides Us

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Photo: sciencenews.org

Here’s one reason the country is so divided. We reiterate immaterial distinctions about each other which amplifies differences and serves no other purpose. When a doctor approaches a sick patient the only relevant information is her/his experience and intelligence. Where the physician’s mother was born or whether the person is religious doesn’t matter.

Here are some recent headlines to further prove my point:

  • “Miami Marlins hire Kim Ng as general manager. She’s the first woman and first Asian American GM in MLB history” — cnn.com
  • “Joe Biden to become the second Catholic president ever, following JFK” — cbsnews.com 
  • “Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President Ms. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever before her.–The New York Times.

Kim Ng Photo: yahoonews.com

Each of the people in the headlines above have distinguished careers and all are Americans. Why does it matter that they are men or women? What does their religion or heritage have to do with their accomplishments? Why not headline their achievements and performance?

We’re better than we once were. At the end of an interview with a woman from a Louisiana historical society decades ago she asked me “how did someone with a name like yours get the job you have?” I was managing editor of Art & Antiques and my last name, that of my then husband, was Polish. At about the same time he called the president of a corporation in Texas and the secretary didn’t put him on hold when she yelled to her boss, “There’s a Pollack on the phone for you.” The president may have winced when he learned that the caller was from Fortune.

I maintain that we’ll go a long way in closing the gaps that divide us if, when we talk or write about a person, we stop underscoring differences of no consequence and focus on relevant facts. What do you think? What do we have to lose?

Photo: nature.com

 

 

Service of Conspiracy Theories to Search for Answers or to Bamboozle

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Photo: newslit.org

Conspiracy theorists claim that the Covid-19 vaccine includes a chip. People fearing this will refuse vaccination that will impact the effectiveness of the life-saving precaution on the nation’s health.

Photo: healthline.com

This one was new to me–I first heard about it Saturday morning on NPR–so I looked it up. In USA Today Elizabeth Weise wrote in June “One of the wildest [conspiracy theories] is a false story about a purported evil plan by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to use mass coronavirus vaccinations to implant microchips in billions of people to track their movements.” Gates “denied he’s involved in any sort of microchipping conspiracy.”

Weise interviewed “Matthew Hornsey, a social psychologist at the University of Queensland in Australia who studies the processes that influence people to accept or reject scientific messages.” She reported: “Here, people have a single issue that they have rallied behind; they don’t trust vaccinations. Conspiracy theories are then selectively embraced to justify that feeling,” he said. “That’s why people are prepared to believe ideas that seem strange and ridiculous to the rest of us. They want to believe it, so they set a very low bar for evidence.”

Vaccines aren’t the only targets. According to Angelo Fichera and Saranac Hale Spencer at factcheck.org the president re-tweeted an accusation that Joe Biden was involved in a murder. “Trump also declined to condemn QAnon — the widespread conspiracy theory movement that baselessly suggests Trump is dismantling an elite child sex trafficking ring involving high-profile Democrats,” they wrote.

Photo: arstechnica.com

Beaten to death and disproved are other theories reiterated in Fichera and Spencer’s article such as: the birther theory that President Obama was born outside the U.S.; that he collaborated with ISIS; that Ted Cruz’s dad conspired to kill President Kennedy; the president’s tweet: “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building [World Trade Center] was coming down,” and on and on.

In The New York Times at the end of September Benedict Carey wrote: “Still, psychologists do not have a good handle on the types of people who are prone to buy into Big Lie theories, especially the horror-film versions.”

Carey reported “More than 1 in 3 Americans believe that the Chinese government engineered the coronavirus as a weapon, and another third are convinced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has exaggerated the threat of Covid-19 to undermine President Trump.”

Carey explained: “At its extremes, these theories include cannibals and satanic pedophiles, (courtesy of the so-called QAnon theory, circulating online); lizard-people, disguised as corporate leaders and celebrities (rooted in alien abduction stories and science fiction); and, in this year of the plague, evil scientists and governments, all conspiring to use Covid-19 for their own dark purposes.”

The most recent false theory millions believe is that the U.S. election was rigged in spite of President Elect Biden’s 306 electoral college number that matched what the incumbent generated in 2016. The day after the last inauguration millions of men and women protested the winner in the Women’s March. They mourned the outcome but didn’t question the election process.

Conspiracy theories have always existed but there seem to be more of late. Have you fallen for any? Do you think they are popular because people want easy answers or because bamboozlers use them to get their way, to stir the pot/exhibit power?

2017 Woman’s March. Photo: en.wikipedia.com

Service of Bad Precedent

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Photo: reason.com

Many of my friends stopped watching the news weeks before the election. They couldn’t take any more stress. Grownups are capable of this choice and of switching channels.

That’s why I found the following news an eye-opener in the land of freedom of speech:

“The three big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC —cut away from President Trump’s news conference at the White House on Thursday as the president lobbed false claims about the integrity of the election,” Michael M. Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu wrote in The New York Times. Fox and CNN stayed with it, they reported.

A few days later Fox News did this to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for the same reason.

So why are the networks suddenly doing this now? Why didn’t they do it during the 2016 presidential campaign?

Photo: whitehouse.gov

In July, 2020 The Guardian reported that “Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “’tsunami of untruths.’”

The 45th president has been covered on TV many times since.

I think cutting off a political figure–especially a president–or her/his spokesperson because you don’t like what you’re hearing is inappropriate. Instead a news organization should have on hand credible pundits who parry the bogus allegations or they shouldn’t cover the conference in the first place.

Should a news organization, or its news division, use its ability to cut off a prominent speaker because its producers or owners feel she/he is making things up? Remember all the tobacco industry chiefs who stared into the camera telling the public that smoking is not harmful? Is this a bad precedent?

Photo: inc.com

Service of Good Sportsmanship

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Photo: savvymom.ca

I think the term “good sportsmanship” is redundant. But can there be too much?

Sportsmanship was paramount at the all-girls school I attended for a dozen years, as I’ve written about previously. Sports were a big deal there. In the day it had more gymnasiums than any other school in NYC.  The two teams–the reds and the whites, as I’ve written previously–bellowed cheers before each game rooting for the opposition.

This was sportsmanship gone overboard.

Photo: savvyparent

Lots of people are thinking about sportsmanship these days. Dan Rather tweeted: “Sportsmanship is being joyous in victory, without gloating. And it is being sad in defeat without being a sore loser. It is a standard I hope we can ultimately achieve.”

A photo of a letter that one-termer George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President, left in the Oval Office for Bill Clinton, [photo below], reflects a gentler time than 2020. Healing, handshaking sensibilities are ridiculed by many today–having nothing to do with the pandemic. I miss the spirit behind this example of elegant, magnificent sportsmanship. In case you can’t read President Bush’s letter in the photo, this is what it says:

January 20th 1993

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know that you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck–

George

How do you define sportsmanship? Can you share good and bad examples? Is sportsmanship old school–an anachronism?

Downloaded from Facebook posting

Service of Fear II

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Photo: training journal.com

This morning an NPR listener characterized the choices of the 2020 electorate as driven by fear. I agree.

Many voters were terrified by the shoot-from-the-hip performance of the incumbent. What would be done to control the deadly Covid-19 if Dr. Fauci was fired, another symbol of disrespect for medical science as bad as the relaxed mask and social distancing stances? How much more damage could one person cause to the environment and our standing in the world? Would this person be concerned about the welfare of all citizens or only his devotees?

The blueprint for the next four years was drawn by the last four.

Photo: ted.com

On the other hand people voted for the incumbent for fear that they would be crushed by taxes; police would abandon them for lack of funds and their homes and family would be in danger; the country would limp from foreign invaders –some claimed they were communists–breaking down our borders, stealing our jobs and socialism would smother capitalism.

In fact only those making $400,000+ would be impacted by Joe Biden’s proposed tax increase; nobody wants to live in a place without a trained, well-funded police force; many of the jobs taken by immigrants are rejected by American citizens and millions of Americans benefit from government-run programs like unemployment and social security, the latter an example of an 85 year old socialist program. According to cbpp.org, “Over 64 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2020. While older Americans make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or were young survivors of deceased workers.” [In fact, the incumbent has spoken of cancelling the payroll tax which funds social security, therefore strangling it.]

Talk is cheap and politicians say what their constituents want to hear. I nevertheless appreciate one that recognizes the chasm between us and wants to cool the rhetoric and lower the emotional temperature. I fear the one who enjoys the heat of conflict and creates more.

Did fear impact your vote?

Photo: heysigmund.com

Service of Masculine Stereotypes & How They Impact the Election

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

Photo: famli.com

I suspect whatever your sexual orientation, you have an idea of masculine characteristics that appeal. Athlete? Tennis, football, hockey, soccer, basketball or golf fan? Opera, jazz, rock, hip hop, rap or country music lover? TV watcher or reader?

What about bravery?

Photo: shotstash.com

Are you masculine if you’re macho, reckless, wild, shoot-from-the-hip, a womanizer and loud or empathetic, cautious, friendly, a family man, nurturing and mild-mannered? The candidates for President represent these characteristics, both easy to satirize or exaggerate which each has done in speeches, via commercials and amplified via spokespeople. Comedians have also had their way with the contenders.

I don’t recall thinking about masculinity regarding candidates in previous elections but today tolerance,  appreciation or intolerance of the various traits of these competitors will impact many a choice at the ballot box. You’re a real man if you don’t wear a mask or if you stick your finger in the eye of the pandemic and you’re a scaredy-cat if you wear one and are Covid-cautious.

We’ll know the answer to the country’s choice tomorrow or soon thereafter.

Are masculine stereotypes bunk? Do you agree that the styles and interpretations of being a “real man” impact voter choices about the 2020 candidates or are the issues paramount?

Photo: videohive.net

 

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